Major Movements in Psychology

Psychoanalytic Theory

Why was Freud so focused on sex?

While the focus on sex may seem odd to modern eyes, it is important to consider Freud in the context of his own time. He was an extremely ambitious man who aimed to build an all-encompassing scientific theory to explain human behavior. In keeping with nineteenth-century mechanics, he looked for one single force that could explain all of human behavior. He was also a product of the Victorian period—a prudish, sexually inhibited time when sexual repression in the European upper middle-class was probably rampant. It is possible that many of the psychological symptoms his female clients exhibited truly were related to repressed sexuality. Over time, however, much of Freud’s theories, including the theory of libido and of psychosexual stages, were translated into emotional and interpersonal terms.


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